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Indian-origin leader elected Suriname President

Suriname has had a chequered history after its independence in 1975 marked by ethnic polarisation, a coup and a civil war.

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Chandrikapersad Santokhi

New York, Jul 14 : Chandrikapersad Santokhi has been elected the President of Suriname by the Latin American country’s National Assembly, according to media reports.

A former Justice Minister, Santokhi of the Progressive Reform Party (PRP) was elected unopposed on Monday, the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) reported on Monday.

He will succeed Desi Bouterse, a former military strongman, whose National Party of Suriname (NPS) lost the election in May as he sent the country to an economic precipice.

Suriname is a former Dutch colony where people of Indian descent make up the largest ethnic group comprising 27.4 per cent of the population of 587,000.

The PRP, known in the Dutch language as Vooruitstrevende Hervormingspartij or VHP by its initials, largely represents the Indian community and had originally been called the United Hindustani Party.

Santokhi inherits an economy run to the ground by the populist Bouterse, who mismanaged the country while forging closer ties with China and Venezuela.

Speaking at the National Assembly on Monday, Santokhi acknowledged that the country faced an economic collapse and said his government will reorient policies to work for Suriname’s recovery.

Suriname had depended on bauxite exports but recently vast oil reserves have been found in its territorial waters and they could help the country tide over the economic crisis when they eventually come on line.

Till then it may need bailouts from international financial institutions and the Netherlands, whose colony it once was.

Relations with the Netherlands and other western countries had deteriorated under Bouterse, first because of the coup and after his election due to his convictions and his drift to Venezuela and China.

Sanotokhi will have to try to repair relations with the west.

He also faces the strange task of having to deal with Bouterse’s conviction by a Suriname court for the killing of 15 opponents after the 1980 coup in which he overthrew the elected government and seized power.

Sentenced to 20 years, Bouterse had appealed the conviction while he was President. Santokhi had investigated the case while he was with the police.

Suriname’s economy depended on bauxite exports but recent oil finds

Santokhi, 61, was trained in a police academy in the Netherlands and rose to be the chief police commissioner of Suriname.

He later served as the Justice Minister in an earlier administration in 2005.

After Santokhi became Pts president in 2011, the PRP began to broaden its base reaching out to people of other ethnicities with its centre-left policies.

The PRP is in a coalitition with the General Liberation and Development Party (GLDP) and its head Ronnie Brunswijk, who is of African descent was elected Vice President, CMC reported..

Suriname has had a chequered history after its independence in 1975 marked by ethnic polarisation, a coup and a civil war.

After a brief return to democracy in 1987 following the 1980 coup, Surinam had another coup 1990, but democracy was restored a year later.

Meanwhile, a brutal civil war took place between the government and rebels led by Brunswijk known as the Surinamese Liberation Army from 1986 to 1992.

Bouterse’s army brutally suppressed Brunswijk’s forces.

In a strange twist, Bouterse became President in a democratic election in 2010 with the support of Brunswijk and was re-elected in 2015.

Both of them have been convicted in the Netherlands on drug-smuggling charges but remain free in Suriname.

The NPS is dominated by Surinamese of African and mixed ancestry, while the GLDP is mostly made up of people of African ethnicity who are descendants of runaway slaves who settled in the interior and are known as Maroons.

Indians were brought over by the Dutch as indentured labourers after slavery was abolished in the colony in 1863 in an arrangement similar to that in neighbouring Guyana, a former British colony.

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India

From Booth-level Worker To Congress’s ‘Babbar Sher’: Rajiv Tyagi’s Ascent Through Forceful TV Debates

Over the past year, Rajiv Tyagi had become a regular face on TV debates, particularly on Hindi news channels, passionately defending his party.

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress spokesperson Rajiv Tyagi passed away Wednesday evening after suffering a massive cardiac arrest. Shortly before his demise, Tyagi had appeared in a debate on a Hindi news channel alongside BJP’s Sambit Patra and other panelists to discuss Tuesday’s communal flare up in Bengaluru. Soon after the debate got over, Tyagi collapsed at his residence in Vaishali locality of Ghaziabad and was rushed to a private hospital at around 6.30 PM where doctors tried to resuscitate him for nearly 45 minutes but failed.

An aggressive critic of the BJP, 49-year-old Tyagi had risen up the ranks in the Congress over the past 20 years from an ordinary booth level worker to become the party’s national spokesperson in January last. It was a chance interaction with Rahul Gandhi back in 2005 during a workshop of the Congress party’s youth workers from across the country that put Tyagi’s political career on a steadily ascendant path. Gandhi was, at the time, trying various ways to revive the Congress party’s frontal organisations, the Indian Youth Congress and the NSUI, in his bid to give younger party workers a greater say in the organisation. Impressed with Tyagi’s commitment to the party and his ability to make cogent arguments on various issues, Gandhi ensured that the young party leader got his political due. Between 2005 and 2019, Tyagi served in the Uttar Pradesh Congress as a general secretary and spokesperson before being elevated to the party’s team of national spokespersons. It was, thus, no surprise that when reacting to the news of Tyagi’s sudden demise, Gandhi said the party had lost a “babbar sher” whose “love for the Congress and struggle will always be remembered.” Later, interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also called up Tyagi’s wife to personally express their condolences while several party leaders went to the Tyagi residence to pay their respects to their departed colleague.

Over the past year, Tyagi had become a regular face on TV debates, particularly on Hindi news channels, passionately defending his party despite often antagonistic news anchors. Last year, he had famously hit out at an anchor, using expletives, when he was repeatedly interjected while trying to make his point. Tyagi refused to back down and ever since that heated TV debate, he would often use the same expletives for that anchor while chiding him on Twitter or other social media platforms.

When several members of the Congress media department began adopting a forceful approach on TV debates in recent months – in part due to violently acerbic tenor of their BJP rivals but perhaps also, to a great measure, due to what the party believes was a deliberate attempt by large several media outlets, to only present the ruling party’s views – Tyagi firmly believed this was “the only way our view can be heard”.

On Wednesday too, as Tyagi made his last TV debate appearance, he was mocked repeatedly by Patra while the anchor made token interjections to stop the BJP spokesperson’s personal attacks against the Congress rival who kept requesting – “please let me speak”. This was, of course, not the first time that Patra and Tyagi had got into a vicious exchange on live TV, the verbal scuffles had become a regular affair in recent months, nor was this news anchor’s evidently partisan handling of the debate, giving Patra a free pass to call rivals various names, a new thing.

As leaders across political parties, including Patra, expressed their shock and condolences at Tyagi’s passing, RJD MP and spokesperson Manoj Jha had a message that media outlets, TV channels in particular, would do well to take note of. Stating that he witnessed Tyagi’s final debate shortly before the leader passed away, Jha tweeted, “I request you all (owners of TV news channels) with folded hands: stop these debates that harvest hate and intolerance otherwise it will mark the end of this country… no one will survive.”

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India

Congress blames ‘toxic’ TV debate for Rajiv Tyagi’s untimely demise

“Till when will toxic debates and venomous spokespersons continue to kill sober and simple people? Till when TV channels will continue to run the TRP business through such debates? Surjewala tweeted

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Randeep Surjewala

New Delhi, Aug 13 : The Congress has blamed ‘toxic’ TV debate for the untimely demise of its spokesperson Rajiv Tyagi, who passed away on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The Congress leader had attended a television debate at 5 p.m. and complained of chest pain soon after the programme ended. He then fell unconscious and was rushed to the Yashoda Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted, “Till when will toxic debates and venomous spokespersons continue to kill sober and simple people? Till when TV channels will continue to run the TRP business through such debates? Till when will divisive communal agenda continue to poison the soul of the country? Till when? #rajiv_tyagi.”

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and senior leader Priyanka Gandhi spoke to Tyagi’s wife and extended their condolences.

Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet, “Congress has lost a lion. We will always remember his love for the party. My condolences are with the family.”

“Shocked to hear about the tragic demise of Shri Rajiv Tyagi. He was too young and had a long life ahead of him. It is a big loss for the party. My heart goes out to his family & wellwishers. May God give them the strength in this hour of grief,” tweeted senior leader Ahmed Patel.

A resident of Ghaziabad, Tyagi was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Congress before becoming the party’s national spokesperson.

The Congress in a statement said, “We are deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Rajiv Tyagi, a staunch Congressman and a true patriot. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this hour of grief.”

Congress leader Jitin Prasada said, “I am shocked and deeply saddened by his untimely demise.”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “I can’t believe that my friend Rajiv Tyagi is not with us any more. He was in a debate with me at 5 p.m. Life is uncertain.”

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Cities

Action against cops after Aligarh incident involving MLA

After the incident, about half a dozen BJP MLAs conveyed to the chief minister that they wanted action against the police officer who reportedly misbehaved with Sahyogi.

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BJP MLA Rajkumar Sahyogi

Lucknow, Aug 12 : The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has suspended the station officer of Gonda police station, Anuj Kumar Saini, who was involved in an alleged brawl with BJP MLA Rajkumar Sahyogi.

Superintendent of Police rural Atul Sharma has also been transferred after the incident which took place earlier on Wednesday.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has asked the IG zone to probe the incident.

After the incident, about half a dozen BJP MLAs conveyed to the chief minister that they wanted action against the police officer who reportedly misbehaved with Sahyogi.

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